Explore La Crema’s Appellation Series
Discover the La Crema you might not know: Our limited-quantity series of artisan Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs that capture the essence of the America’s finest grape-growing regions.
For certain winemakers, nothing is more fun, or makes better use of their art and skills, than crafting wines that express the particular place of origin of the grapes—their terroir, to use that hard-to-define French term.
La Crema’s winemaker, Elizabeth Grant-Douglas, is such a winemaker. Speaking of the pleasures of crafting a wine of terroir, she says, “With some of our Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from our vineyards, you start to think, ‘This piece of land is unique. It has something to say.’”
With vineyards in some of the finest cool-climate appellations, ranging from Willamette Valley in Oregon through the Anderson Valley, Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, Carneros, Bennett Valley and Arroyo Seco, Grant-Douglas loves letting the individual wines express themselves and their terroir.
“I started winemaking here in 2001, and we’ve since increased the number of site-specific Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays we make a great deal,” she notes. “We explore all of these appellations. And remember, we might have 80 different components, or lots, from a larger appellation. Sometimes, you get something so compelling it calls to be bottled on it’s own.”This is the philosophy behind the increasing number of La Crema’s Appellation series Pinots and Chards: “These new appellation wines are complete in themselves..”
In order to best allow the wines to express their individual terroir, rather than winemaking style, Grant-Douglas makes all her appellation series using the same techniques, with a single exception: the Anderson Valley Chardonnay, alone among all the Pinots and Chards, sees no new oak. This is because, as Grant-Douglas notes, the wine is so “bright, pretty and delicate, it just doesn’t need any.”
All grape varieties reflect their terroir, but some do so more than others. Concerning Pinot Noir, Grant-Douglas says, “It’s particularly site-specific. Everything that happens to Pinot shows: the shifts in temperature, the wind, the soils, the angle of the slope. It all makes and especially strong impression on Pinot Noir.”
Here are Grant-Douglas’s quick takes on five of her appellation wines and their particular qualities:
“The Pinot is floral, with blue fruit, violets and black tea. The Chardonnay is so bright, pretty and delicate.”
– Shop for our Anderson Valley wines: Chardonnay | Pinot Noir
“The Chardonnay has pretty tropical notes, backed up by a mineral quality. The Pinot has a really intense plummy quality.”
– Shop for our Arroyo Seco wines: Chardonnay | Pinot Noir
“The Chard benefits from a warmer influence. I get pear and yellow plum. The Pinot Noir is incredibly earth-driven, with a wild, feral quality.”
– Shop for our Carneros wines: Chardonnay | Pinot Noir
Russian River Valley:
“Chardonnays are a richer style, with balancing acidity. Pinot Noir is lush and spicy, with cherry, cola and sassafras.”
– Shop for our Russian River wines: Chardonnay | Pinot Noir
“I love it! Chardonnay has a bright, laser focus of citrus and green apples. And Pinot Noir has intense, juicy red fruit.”
– Shop for our Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Beyond the appellation series Pinots and Chardonnays, Grant-Douglas does craft the occasional vineyard-designated wine (where all of the grapes are sourced from a single vineyard), “but only when they’re special in that vintage,” she says. “It’s a call we make every year.” Since the 2014s are still maturing, Grant-Douglas won’t know if she’ll bottle single-vineyard wines until next Spring.
The one exception is the single vineyard Pinot Noir created through or Virtual Vintner crowd-sourcing experience. Interested in learning more? Get the whole story here.
“There are things I might miss out on until the wine has time to evolve, especially with Pinot Noir. It can be really mute at this time of the year.”
Should she create single-vineyard wines from the 2014 vintage, they’ll be highlighted here on the blog.